To the Editor:
The Carbondale Farmers Market has outgrown its space.
I am a longtime fan of the local farmers market. I remember going to it in many locations through the years. I recall the Farmers Market on South Illinois Avenue, kind of across from Davies Gym. There Vina was just a wee thing in Judy’s womb. Later she was a fiddle-playing kid and now Vina is a mother herself with a child in tow. The Farmers Market and its vendors have been a great asset to Carbondale for many years.
The current location for Carbondale Farmers Market is in Westown Shopping Center.
Last week when I went there, I couldn’t walk to my targeted seller because of six — yes six — dogs across the walkway. And there were two more dogs just beyond the six wanting to join in the doggie fun, sniffing and romping with the others. Today, customers were three deep waiting for someone to take money at Lingles. They were halfway across the walkway.
And then there is the parking and crazy driver problem. Every possible parking spot is taken. People in cars lurk behind people loading their treasures in hopes of getting a spot when they leave before that other lurking car gets it. Shoppers have even commandeered the old McDonald’s parking lot as a place to park. Going early used to be a solution. The fame of this market has brought so many shoppers that doesn’t work any longer. The vendors probably have no idea the extent of the traffic and parking difficulty. They are happily selling their wares and produce as we shoppers try to get near the peaches, corn, tomatoes and such.
I’ve been to other farmer markets. They are nothing compared to our fine market (third best in the country in one article I read). I remember going to a market in central Illinois. There were oilcloths and cornucopia and baskets for beautiful displays. The problem was there was very little produce — a cucumber here, a tomato there. Our Farmers Market is nearly unparalleled in quantity and quality of offerings.
So, why doesn’t Carbondale capitalize on this wonderful treasure? Isn’t there some Carbondale land baron that could make a good deal on a place that could have ample parking, wide walkways and permanent stalls to display all of the wonderful produce and products from southernmost Illinois? A place needs to be built that can accommodate everything, the vendors, the German band, the fiddler, the dogs, the people and the cars.